ESSKIA British Finals, Stoke – 16-17 November

After successfully qualifying at the Open Championships in Norwich at the ESSKIA English National Finals in October, this weekend saw the Eltham College A and B teams travel to sunny Stoke for the British Finals. The top schools from England, Scotland and Wales were all competing to be crowned the best school ski team in Britain.

Upon arriving on Saturday, it was straight to the ski slope for an open practice session in dark and stereotypically drizzly conditions. After several runs, the team seemed to be getting to grips with the steep start ramp, with Pietro perfecting the ‘Pietro Ping’ despite leaving both his skis at the top and making it half way down the slope before he finally came to a stop on one of his attempts, miraculously managing to stay upright the whole time.

After a good night’s rest and some good team bonding over a Nandos dinner, we headed off early to the slope for the competition. After course inspection, the boys were all feeling confident and excited for the race, buoyed by their recent successes at the ESSKIA Qualifiers and English National competitions, but asking the question ‘But can we still do it on a cold, rainy day in Stoke?’

Adam Cornick was first out on the starting block for Eltham College, taking a good line through some quite tricky sections of the course and laid down an unbelievable time, setting a high bar for the rest of the skiers to come. He was then followed by the rest of the B team: Bode Kelly, Jonny Kay and Alex Lancaster who matched Adam’s aggression and all laid down some brilliant times. Nerves were clearly high, meaning that there were definitely some areas to tighten up for the second run, something which the team all recognised and discussed with the coach, Emily Evans, during the lunch break between the two runs.

Next up were the Eltham A skiers: Matty McCool, Pietro Vascotto-Vidal, Fergus Bidwell and Theo Austin. Fergus was pleased to make it to the start line after missing two out of the last three British Finals due to injuring himself during the practice session the day before. He took advantage of being injury-free by skiing two excellent runs and coming 16th overall in the male category with a combined time of 24.63. Matty also pushed hard but was unfortunately undone by the fine margins that go along with competitive ski racing. Pietro and Theo both posted good times, with some consistent skiing and both stepping up a gear for their second runs, meaning some very respectable combined times against some very tricky competition.

Special mentions must go to Adam and Fergus for achieving 15th and 16th fastest boys respectively as well as to Jonny Kay and Pietro for stepping in last minute for the injured Ben Hummel and Diaco Abrishami, who is away competing in FIS races in the Alps.

All of the boys should be proud of their efforts and achievement in getting to the British Finals and competing as one of the top school teams in Britain. A big thank you Emily Evans, Mr Hindocha and to Mr Kelly who also trekked all of the way up to Stoke to support the boys and the team. A fantastic experience for the team and we hope to continue to compete again at this level next year.